Featured Essays

History and the State: Textbook Debate Underscores Deep Divide in South Korea

By | May 12, 2017

In a timely essay following the re-privatization of history textbook production in South Korea, University of Toronto graduate Yun Sik Hwang explored developments in South Korean nationalism and the manifestation of differing national identities in national history.

Anti-Communism Endures: Political Implications of ROK Political Culture

By | May 08, 2017

Anti-communism has a long and storied history in South Korea. Nobody disputes the prevalence of anti-communist sentiment. The public of all ages retains the view that there is an ongoing need for anti-communist ideology. Steven Denney looks at the data.

Wreathes, Smoke, and National Interest: April 15 and Commemoration in Asia

By | April 21, 2017

East Asia’s cemeteries are a reminder that while leaders and rhetoric may change, the structure of the region remains the same. The borders set in 1953 have not moved. But is there something in the air? Steven Denney cogitates on the contingency of Korean War memory and what it may mean in the present.

THAAD and the Great Power Context III: The Quiet Exception in Russian Geopolitics

By | April 18, 2017

Continuing his analysis of Russia’s position on THAAD from a regional security perspective, Anthony Rinna seeks to extrapolate some of the economic and geopolitical issues lying behind the THAAD factor in Russia-South Korea bilateral relations.

Prominent Defections in 2016: How North and South Korea Responded

By | March 29, 2017

Tom Fowdy looks back at 2016, when two defections made headlines around the world. He finds that, seemingly as usual, the pre-eminent concern on both sides of the DMZ appeared to be scoring geopolitical points.

Unstable Rhetoric: Few Additions, Some Changes, Lots of Omissions

By | February 23, 2017

In the second piece in his series on reading the North Korean media, Martin Weiser looks at the unstable nature of North Korean published rhetoric, which has a tendency to change across formats, and the ways in which this impacts upon reading and interpretation.

The Sino-DPRK Split and Origins of US-DPRK Bilateralism

By | February 20, 2017

Using archival material from the Woodrow Wilson Center, Eungseo Kim dissects the politics of Sino-US détente in 1972. He concludes that Pyongyang’s grievance against Beijing for its refusal to push preconditions for Sino-US diplomatic normalization was why Pyongyang decided it needed to deal directly with the United States.

South Korea’s Identity Gap: Diverging Views on North Korea

By and | January 23, 2017

How close do South Korean youth feel to North Korea vis-a-vis their older compatriots? What do they think about the reunification of a nation long divided? Reviewing the latest survey data and fresh evidence from qualitative interviews, Phillip Lee and Steven Denney confirm what many have long suspected: a growing identity gap.

THAAD and the Great Power Context: Russia’s Regional Interests in Korea

By | January 01, 2017

Taking his cue from Henry Kissinger, Anthony Rinna analyzes the THAAD question from the Russian perspective, viewing the Putin government’s opposition to THAAD deployment in the context of overlapping global and regional aspirations.

Foreign Policy Implications of Park’s Impeachment

By | December 09, 2016

Dr. Leif-Eric Easley assesses the ramifications of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment for the regional order and considers likely foreign policy scenarios should the Constitutional Court uphold the impeachment motion.

South Korean Democracy: Consolidated or Not?

By | December 07, 2016

Recent research suggesting rapidly declining youth support for democracy in Western states triggered a debate in the New York Times and elsewhere. The decline was found to be real, but not terribly dramatic. What is the situation in South Korea?